Spring Break, heartbreak, c’est la vie.

Standard

It’s “Spring Break” for my university, which means that I can work at home all week. If you thought “Spring Break” meant “not working”, you clearly don’t know any professors! But it will be a bit more chill, which I’m super grateful for, because goodness gracious, I could use a break.

Nearing the end

I’ve finished the first sleeve on Gridlines, and am actually nearing the end on the second one. I’m still really loving this sweater. If my face doesn’t look like the face of someone really loving her sweater, well, that might be because I’m also still really angry and frustrated and just straight-up heartbroken about the fact that Elizabeth Warren is now out of the race for the Democratic nomination.

Still frustrated and angry that this lady is no longer in the race.

I make no secret of my political leanings here on this blog, and I haven’t made any secret of the fact that I was an ardent Elizabeth Warren supporter, and a pretty dedicated Team Warren volunteer. I’m so thankful to Elizabeth Warren, for everything. I don’t think I’ll ever “get over” the misogyny and erasure, but I will also never stop fighting for the things that made me want to be involved with Team Warren in the first place. But my heart hurts, and this feels very personal to me – I’ve watched the politician I most closely identify with, the politician with whom I share so many traits in common (intelligent, obsessed with planning, dorky, joyful, professorial, feminist, compassionate, etc) be either erased, or treated like absolute garbage by the media and the people of this country in which I live. That just hurts, ok?

But I’m not *surprised*. How could I be surprised? I’ve been a highly intelligent female-identifying person my entire life. It’s never been lost on me that when intellect comes in a female body, it is despised, that I live in a culture where *I* am despised…how could I not notice that? It’s never been lost on me that in order to gain recognition, women have to work twice as hard and be twice as prepared as men, and once we get recognition, people will resent us, and as soon as we start to seek power, the people who used to like us will start to see us as “nasty” even when we haven’t changed one bit. Those dynamics aren’t a mystery to me, and they probably aren’t a mystery to anyone who identifies as a woman. I see how things are – I’m just stubborn enough that I want to try to change them, as Sisyphean a task as that may be. Nevertheless, I will persist.

On that front, this is really, really good. It gets at what is so pernicious and frustrating about sexism in the context of elections…of course there are an infinity of factors that contribute to a candidate not winning, but that doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t one of them. And I guarantee you that sexism colored voters’ interpretations of even those other factors…male candidates are permitted mistakes and imperfections in a way that female candidates simply aren’t. But because it’s complex, we can’t “prove it”, and many people are happy to gaslight us about it. And because we hide behind our worries about *other people’s* sexism, and code it in terms of “electability”, we never have to face it. But dammit, I want us to face it. And it’s not just in elections, it’s everywhere. So many people are so eager to explain why something you faced wasn’t *actually* sexism. I’m just so tired of the gaslighting.

The day Warren dropped out of the race, she and Roger Lau made an all-volunteer call at 6pm, so I had my phone on speakerphone at the dinner table to listen in. She pretty much said what she said in this Medium post, but it was still just lovely (and heartbreaking) to HEAR her saying it (with a few additions), and to hear from Lau, too. But what I want to remember is this: My daughter saw that I was tearing up, so she reached over and squeezed my elbow, and kept holding it until the call was over. Oh, my sweet child! She’s sad about Warren dropping out, too – we were hoping she’d come here, and that my daughter could meet her and make a pinky promise with her. But I’m so glad she could listen in, and see her mama care so deeply about something, and that her impulse was to give her mama a loving squeeze. All those little girls who made pinky promises with Warren, and the little girls who wanted to but didn’t get a chance…they’re going to do amazing things. I just have such immense gratitude to Warren for showing what a better path could look like, for being a woman who is unapologetically smart, angry, and passionate about her plans, for modeling the kind of accountability, openness, listening, learning, intersectional thinking, and ownership of mistakes that I think is necessary if we are to have a healthy government (and healthy relationships, in general).

Almost there...

I know, I’m touching my face – but I’ve been a very good hand-washer!

Right now I’m also trying really hard not to panic about COVID-19. The thing is – I keep hearing about how it’s only really dangerous if you’re elderly or have a compromised immune system or an underlying lung or heart condition, and while I’m not elderly, I do check the other two boxes, and my spouse checks one of them, too. I’m thinking that the odds of a student bringing the virus back with them from Spring Break are about 100%, so I’m thinking about what I will need to do to continue teaching while also keeping myself as safe as I can. These are such strange times that we are living in (and oh, how I wish we could have chosen someone as competent and prepared as Elizabeth Warren to lead us through them!).

But anyway, back to the sweater. Alternating yarns for the sleeve remains as annoying as I said it was in my previous post, but I’m powering through, and I’m really excited to be able to wear this sweater as the weather begins to warm towards Spring-like temperatures. (We may still get a blizzard, though, because this is Western NY we’re talking about…you just never know!) I kinda did my own thing with the decreases, decreasing a bit more rapidly at the upper arm and then at the rate recommended by the pattern below the elbow; I didn’t want the super-loose sleeve fit that I saw on some of the finished Gridlines on Ravelry, and that seemed to result in a good fit for me, at least. I also finished the first sleeve with an i-cord bindoff, just like I used at the neckline, because I love the combination of garter stitch with an i-cord edging.

Almost done.

I’ll almost certainly finish this sweater over Spring Break, so I’m starting to think ahead to what I want my next project to be. The second I saw Jacqueline Cieslak’s Water Bearer cardigan, I became obsessed with it, but have been struggling to figure out what to knit it with; as much as I’d love to get a bright turquoise hand-dyed yarn like she’s using for the pattern sample, I have a stupid number of sweaters’ worth of yarn in my stash, and I’m determined to knit it down. I’m currently leaning towards using the brown Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool that I’ve had for darned near a decade – yes, it’s kind of plain, but it’s the right weight, and I think the brown might look a bit like woodgrain in that gorgeous brioche shawl collar. And I could certainly use a brown cardigan in my wardrobe. But there are so many other sweaters I want to knit, too, so we’ll see if that actually ends up being the one I knit next!

Gridlines sleeve progress!

Standard

I haven’t had a ton of time to knit this week, but I’ve made a bit of progress on the first sleeve on Gridlines!

Gridlines sleeve progress - almost to the elbow!

It’s kind of slow going, though. I mean, for one thing, it’s a sweater knit in sock yarn, so even at the somewhat loose gauge, there are a lot of stitches in the sleeve! But also, as much as I love knitting sleeves from the top down (because I can get them to be exactly the right length), I also kind of HATE knitting them from the top down, because of how the entire body of the sweater has to twist around and around as you knit. And for Gridlines, I’m using two different balls of yarn, and alternating every other row, which means the yarns themselves are getting all twisted up, too:

all twisted up

The two balls I had left don’t quite match – one has quite a bit more white streaks in it, and I want my two sleeves to match, so switching yarns every other row is the best solution. It’s just…annoying. C’est la vie!

Gridlines sleeve progress - almost to the elbow!

Wish me luck in pushing through the annoyance to get to the finish line?

Gridlines body is finished!

Standard

I finished the body of Gridlines this morning while working from home! Hooray!

Gridlines body!

I didn’t end up having all that much knitting time this weekend, because I spent Saturday at a volunteer training, learning how to make calls and texts in support of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign (eagle-eyed blog-readers may have noticed that I telegraphed my support for her in the post in which I introduced Gridlines). I was one of those folks in ’16 who wished so strongly that Warren was running, and I’m thrilled that she is running now in ’20! Her plans would build the future I want to live in and want my daughter to grow up in, and her entire ethos is the direction I want the Democratic party to go in. I’ve been making donations to the campaign, but wanted to do more, especially given how frustrated I feel about the way she’s being erased in the media. So I decided to be brave and put my mouth where my money is: by talking to voters in South Carolina for a few hours on Saturday. Phone banking is a wee bit intense for me, it turns out – I think texting is more my speed. Or maybe I should start writing Letters to the Editor. Anyway, enough about Elizabeth Warren…back to Gridlines! (Though it does strike me that the Hydroponic colorway I’m working with isn’t TOO far off from Warren’s Liberty Green…)

Unfinished neckline

As I said in my last post, after picking up the stitches from the center, it was pretty straightforward to knit the left side, because it was completely the same as the right side, and the pattern had become intuitive by that point. I’m thinking that for the neckline, I’ll do the garter stitch neckband that’s called for the in the pattern, but I might edge it in i-cord rather than a regular bind-off; I just think i-cord edges look really nice with garter stitch, and I’m not at all worried about it making the neckline too snug to go over my head – if anything, I think an extra-firm bind-off edge like that will give some needed structure to the top of the sweater. I think I’ll actually do the neckline first, before moving onto the sleeves.

Gridlines body shoulder closeup, with cowl

I’m still really in love with the shoulder shaping, and with the way this sweater looks with my deep pink Willow Cowl!

Gridlines body - with Willow Cowl

And I’m really happy with the fit – it’s roomy, but flatteringly so. I think it’s going to be a great layer for Spring and Fall! (Maybe not Winter – that’s when I lean towards my worsted and aran-weight sweaters, because I am a person with very poor thermoregulation and I need warm wool to help me out!)

Gridlines progress

Standard

I’ve joined the left front and back on Gridlines, so now I can actually pull it over my head!

Gridlines neck opening!

It’s all bunched up on the needles on the left side, but it seems like the fit is going to be just what I’m aiming for.

Gridlines progress!

I’m still really enjoying the pattern. It’s really intuitive (to me, at least) and since the left side mirrors the right side, I hardly have to consult the pattern anymore because I can just consult my knitting. (Seriously: learning to read your own knitting is one of the best skills you can work to develop as a knitter!)

Gridlines progress

Isn’t it going to look great with this Willow Cowl?

I’m going to be bringing this project with me to Knitting Guild tonight (it’ll be my first time there in months, because of the lengthy bout with pneumonia in late ’19 and early ’20). It takes quite awhile to knit each row, since it’s the entire length from back hem over the shoulder to front hem, so we’ll just have to see how close I can come to finishing the left side. Maybe by the weekend?

I’ve got half a sweater!

Standard

I’ve finished the right half of the body on Gridlines:

I have half a sweater!

I’m really enjoying this pattern so far. The construction is quite clever and easy to customize, and it’s just plain addictive with the slipped stitch/garter ridge grids. Just enough to keep me interested but doesn’t demand every ounce of my attention because it’s also quite easy to “read” the knitting…I like that.

Gridlines progress!

And the Hydroponic color is just incredible! This is going to be such a great, somewhat loose-fitting sweater; I can see wearing it both in the winter (with long sleeves underneath) and in the warmer months with just a tank top under it.

Gridlines progress!

Those bright blues with the pops of neon pink and green and black…it’s just so great. And I’m so smitten with the way those decreases at the shoulder look!

Closeup of shoulder detail

As you might be able to tell from the needle sticking up in back, I’ve already picked up the stitches to knit the left side; I’m really impressed with how well-thought out the pattern is, and how nicely the details work together – there’s no obvious seam line where the stitches are picked up from the original cast on to knit outwards from the center. Just so brilliant!

Being me, I can’t resist taking a silly photo – here you can see both front and back; I’m looking through the arm hole:

Looking out the armhole

Onward to the left side!

bright blues

Standard

While last summer was the summer of green handknits, this winter seems to be shaping up to the the winter of blues, as you’ll see in just a bit. I’ve been feeling pretty blue, too – I still haven’t recovered from the extended bout with pneumonia that started in November, and it’s led me to have to miss a conference I was very excited about (I’d be on the plane right now, if I were well) and to have to pull out of the current session with my chamber orchestra, too. I’m normally such an energetic person (as anyone who’s met me in person will attest) so it’s a bit disorienting to be so flattened by fatigue for such a long time. It’s not completely unfamiliar – I’ve dealt with extended periods of fatigue before, during graduate school, but it’s a whole different ballgame as a parent who is a full-time professor. I’m trying to keep my spirits up, adjust my schedule where I can, and remember that it is probably not going to be like this forever.

Being silly with my hat-in-progress

I am such a goofball.

I’ve always really liked bright colors and I’ve always liked blue, and my stash reflects that. I mentioned in my last post that I’d cast on for a Musselbergh hat from a bright blue skein of sock yarn, and what you see above is the progress I’ve made on it so far. It’s a really great mindless knit, and mindless is good when you’re not feeling amazing.

But I was also itching to cast on for a sweater for myself, and looking through my Ravelry queue, I thought Gridlines would be a great one. I had a sweater’s worth of Madelinetosh Twist Light in Hydroponic that I picked up awhile back with the proceeds from my Wool People 1 pattern (Sullivan), and I’d originally thought I would design myself a loose, drapey sweater with it, but when I saw Gridlines, I was smitten, and I thought that it would look amazing in bright blue-green with neon speckles. And so far, it does!

Gridlines (new sweater in progress)

The pattern is kind of addictive, with the clever slipped stitches and garter ridges forming a grid, and the design is SUPER customizable in terms of width, length, and even neckline circumference (I’m knitting a size 2dM, for the record). So far, I’ve managed to knit the right front, which is what I’m showing off in the pictures:

Showing off my Gridlines sweater-in-progress

The construction is really interesting, and I’m looking forward to knitting the rest of it. So those are my “bright blues” for this winter!

Hello, 2020.

Standard

I hadn’t intended to let the end of the year pass by without posting, but I’ve been sick with a particularly stubborn and difficult to treat case of pneumonia since November 26th, and am still working to recover, so there really hasn’t been any energy for…just about anything, since my last post. But I have made a bit of progress on my daughter’s new Stripes! cardigan – the body of the sweater is complete!

Stripes! in progress

We both really love the colorful garter ridges on the pockets:

Pocket!

I’ve also started a new mindless project for myself, using this skein of Dream in Color Smooshy from my stash:

Future Musselbergh hat. (Dream in Color Smooshy in “Vivid” from stash.)

I had originally planned to make yet another Willow Cowl from this skein, but realized that a cowl in this color wouldn’t actually add much to my wardrobe; I already have cowls that would go with just about any outfit that this color goes with. Then Ysolda released her Musselbergh hat pattern, and it struck me that a vivid blue hat would go wonderfully with my lighter blue winter coat, and would make a great replacement for the similar double-layered hat that I made for myself over a decade ago, which unfortunately made its way into one of my cat’s claws and teeth awhile back. The mindless stockinette seemed like it would be perfect for the cross-country plane trip to the MLA conference this week, where I’d take part in a panel with folks I’ve been wanting to meet for ages…but the pneumonia has weakened me so much that my doctor advised me against traveling, so it turns out that I’m not going. I’m heartbroken about that, but with a new semester about to start, the last thing I need is to push myself so hard that I wind up back in the hospital. I took the hat with me to watch Frozen II in the theater with my daughter yesterday; stockinette in the round is also perfect for knitting in a dark theater!

It’s kind of incredible to realize that it’s now 2020. To me, that sounds like the future, which I suppose just means that I’m getting older. We’re heading towards some difficult times, I think, with the cynical manipulation of resentment, hatred, and fear driving people towards authoritarianism and zero-sum thinking, not just here, but worldwide. In my own country, people who seek power simply for power’s sake, operating in bad faith, have been willing to tear down every norm in order to keep it, bringing us, I fear, to the brink of collapse as a country, and perhaps to the brink of war, as well. And we’re taking almost none of the action we need to take in order to face our biggest global crisis: the climate breakdown. It is hard to feel hopeful about what the 2020s will bring.

I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but I think the 2020s will ask a lot from us. I think we are entering very challenging times, and we need to respond to those challenges with wisdom and cooperation and humility. We will all make mistakes in the coming years; what matters is that we are open to learning, and willing to own the harms we cause and work to repair them – and some of us will have more work to do on that front than others. Let’s all be good to each other, be lights in the darkness that lies ahead, keep hope alive for each other, and try to turn our communities and our governments towards positive action. I wish for everyone courage in the coming decade.

 

I love this kid.

The 2020s are when she will grow into a young adult. What future are we creating for her generation?

 

Elle Melle (again!)

Standard

I started this new, bigger Elle Melle cardigan for M back in April, and then got distracted by my own projects this summer. But now it’s finished, and it’s a great replacement for her first Elle Melle, which she outgrew years ago!

New sweater, new kitty

New sweater, new kitty

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Elle Melle (with some modifications)
Yarn: Harrisville Shetland in “Aubergine” and “Plum”
Needles: Size 2 and Size 4

About the pattern modifications: the main one relates to the collar, for which I made the same adjustments as I did in the original Elle Melle, and in my “me-sized” one. I first did a couple of extra rows of raglan decreases, in the first 4 rows of garter stitch, and then I did a few short rows to angle the collar:

Elle Melle, close up of the short-rowed collar modification

I just think it looks nicer that way!

Elle Melle, investigating the decaying leaves on our deck

I knit the sweater extra long, because my kiddo keeps growing like a weed! I probably should have made the sleeves a bit extra long, too, but it’ll be easy enough to rip them back and reknit the ends of them once they start getting too short; I’ve got a decent amount left on each cone of the yarn!

Elle Melle, back view

I’m half-tempted to pick up another cone of each color, too, because when I finished the sweater, I decided I would try it on, and y’all, the sleeves are way too short, but otherwise? It basically fits me! So now I’m wishing I had one in purple, too!

M’s new Elle Melle is all finished and blocked, and y’all, other than the sleeves being way too short, it fits me. My kid is getting so big!!! (And also I’m kinda tiny.)

(Forgive the absolutely filthy mirror – today’s cleaning day!)

Tis the season for reknits of sweaters I’ve made for M when she was younger…can you tell which sweater is up next?

So many things in one photo!

She’s just such a fantastic knitwear recipient – always happy to wear (and model!) what I’ve made for her, and truly appreciative of it, too. It’s so worth it!

From above :)

She’s wishing HARD for some snow, now that we’ve reached November, and who knows, maybe next week she’ll get her wish! And at the end of the month, she’ll be EIGHT years old! Can you believe it? I hardly can!!

Ta-da! Elle Melle is finished!

Happy November, everyone!

Halloween 2019!

Standard

Happy Halloween from Banana Girl!

Banana girl + banana phone!

Taking a call on her banana phone

That’s right, my kiddo wanted to be a BANANA for Halloween. The word “banana” has been her very favorite “verbal stim” – if you’re not around neurodivergent people much, you might not know what that means, but basically, it was a word that felt really good to say, and she’d say it over and over as a way of creating pleasing, calming sensory input for herself. Banana banana banana. When I asked her, much earlier in the year, what she wanted to dress up as for Halloween, she replied, “banana banana” and I wasn’t sure whether she was just stimming, or whether she really wanted to be a banana, so I asked and the answer she gave me was “both!” (She was in fact THRILLED with the idea that she could actually BE a banana!) And once she decides something, it is DECIDED, so we’ve stuck to the plan. So yes, my kiddo is dressing up as her favorite verbal stim for Halloween!

Maddy took a picture of me cutting the fleece for her banana costume. (Yes, she’s going to dress up as her favorite verbal stim word for Halloween!)

Because both M and I have “engineering brains” and find this kind of thing quite engaging, we spent quite a lot of time working together to develop a plan for the banana costume – our “banana planana“. (I mean, she’s not wrong – that IS fun to say!) We discovered that bananas are pentagonal, and the design went from there!

Sewing the banana!

It took quite a bit of thinking to figure out how to place the zippers so that they opened the way they needed to, but thankfully my new sewing machine made the actual construction pretty easy – I’m *so* glad I got this machine!

Banana girl!

I’m pretty darned pleased with how it turned out – my sewing machine skills are still pretty rudimentary, but it looks pretty much exactly like what we were imagining!

 

Zipping herself up

Zipping herself up

 

Banana girl licking her own peel?

Tasting herself – turns out, fleece doesn’t taste like banana

Banana girl + banana

Banana girl contemplates banana

Our Halloween is going to be VERY wet (so much rain!) and my friends in the upper midwest have snow, but I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween, anyway! Or if that’s not your thing, I hope that you have a great Thursday!

Banana Zombie?

It’s a Banana Zombie!

leftover legwarmers

Standard

I had some bright green Cascade 220 Superwash leftover from my Tric cardigan, and I had an idea: I always need knee-high socks to wear over my tights in the winter, so that my tall boots don’t shred the tights. I also like having a pop of color that coordinates with my outfit, but finding knee-high socks in the right colors is hard! But if I can make little boot-topper/legwarmer type thingies out of my leftover sweater yarn, then I can have those coordinating pops of color easily! (I mentioned this idea in this post, awhile back.)

Making legwarmers

So, what I did was cast on 64 stitches using the backwards loop cast-on – this is not the cast-on that I would normally use for 1×1 rib, but I had a reason: I like the loops that the backwards loop cast-on creates for creating folded hems; they’re really easy to pick up and knit with the stitches on the needle. But before I knit the hem together, I sewed up a ring of sport elastic, and held it between the layers:

Making a folded hem with elastic

I actually made a YouTube video to show what I was doing – it’s not great, both because the camera didn’t want to focus very well, and because my kiddo interrupted a few times, but I’ll share it here in case it’s useful:

 

Now that I’ve got the elastic knit into the folded ribbed hem, I’m switching to brioche rib, and I’ll knit the main part of the legwarmer in brioche, decreasing a few times as I get further down, before ending with plain 1×1 rib. If this plan works, I’ve got lots of single skeins of worsted weight that I’ll be turning into legwarmers!

Making legwarmers out of leftover yarn from my sweater!

I got new glasses today, can you tell?

it’s a scarf!

Standard

Turns out, if you just keep knitting…scarves do eventually come to an end!

Trying (and failing) to get the entire length of the scarf in a photo with the self-timer.

Trying (and failing) to get the entire scarf into a photo using the self-timer on my camera

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Paris’s Brioche Scarf
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in “Whale’s Road” and Fibre Company Canopy Worsted in “Quetzal”
Needles: size 4
Time to knit: 3.5 months

All done!

I’m really thrilled with how it turned out – the colors ended up working out so well together. I’m especially in love with “Whale’s Road” color on the dark side!

My daughter is also pretty thrilled with how it turned out, and begged me to let her model it for photos.

Modeling my finished brioche scarf

It does look awfully great on her!

She's such a ham when the camera is out!

She’s such a ham when the camera is out!

mama, take a picture of me laying down!

She’s begging me to knit one for her, too – I don’t have any of the light color left over, but I do have an entire skein left of the Malabrigo Rios in “Whale’s Road”, so if I can find a good contrast color for it in my stash, I’m thinking I might try to make a cowl version – it would give me a good reason to figure out how to do 2-color brioche in the round!

All folded up!

It’s like 2 scarves in one!

I learned a LOT from this project; before I started, I’d never done 2-color brioche, and had just started experimenting a bit more with double-knitting. Now both techniques are pretty automatic in my hands, and I have a much deeper understanding of the stitch mechanics and geometry, and how the two types of knitting are related to each other. So I definitely got what I wanted out of using this project as my entry in the Fruity Knitting “Scary New Technique” knitalong; and not only that, I got a beautiful, warm, squishy scarf!

So happy with my finished scarf!

This is definitely going to get a lot of wear this winter!

this is the scarf that never ends…

Standard

It's so long...and yet not long enough!

Yes it goes on and on my friends…

I started knitting it not knowing…

….anything about 2-color brioche, and though it took awhile to get the hang of it, at this point, it’s become basically automatic for me, which is awesome! (Ok, I gave up on making that fit the song!)

The trouble is…there’s still more scarf to knit. Because scarves? They need to be LONG. When I fold this scarf over at what I think will be the middle (because that’s where I ran out of the first skein of the light blue), it looks like I’m just over 3/4 of the way done, so I’m getting closer, but gosh, this is a good reminder of why I don’t often knit scarves…even one as beautiful and engaging to knit as this one just gets old after awhile!

I am still just madly in love with the way this “Whales Road” colorway of Malabrigo Rios looks in this scarf, especially in natural light (like when I was knitting while waiting for M’s bus to arrive).

I am still madly in love with the way that the Whales Road colorway of Malabrigo Rios looks in this pattern, though, and the promise of the beautiful, squishy scarf that will be mine once I finish keeps me going.

Getting closer...

Getting closer, but still so much more to knit!

september sewing and other fun

Standard

Whew, what a whirlwind these last few weeks have been – the start of a new semester, followed by my daughter’s first day of second grade, plus a whole lot of evening workshops that I needed to run…it’s been a lot! But even though I’ve been too busy to make much happen on the crafty front, I do have a few new things to report. First of all, we finally set up my new sewing machine down in the basement!

my sewing area!

Not the most beautiful sewing space, but it works!

Over Labor Day weekend, I attempted to sew my very first project on the machine: a Strata Top with some double gauze that’s been hanging out in my (very small) fabric stash for quite a long time.

sewing!

My new sewing machine (a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, which I got for half price!!) is an absolute DREAM to sew with. I had thought that maybe sewing just wasn’t for me, because with my old machine, it nearly always ended in tears of frustration. But this machine?

sewing!

No tears, just smiles!! I do still have quite a bit to learn about sewing, though; I really screwed up trying to sew the sleeve hems, so I ripped those out, and then when I was doing that, realized that in attempting to create french seams, I’d inadvertently eaten up WAY more than I was supposed to in the seam allowances at the top of the shoulders. Here’s what the partially-finished top looks like on me:

Strata Top in progress

It’s maybe a bit hard to tell, but even if I *can* get the sleeves hemmed properly, the sleeves are going to be too snug; I needed that extra material at the top of the shoulder! I might try to rip things back, but given how many layers of stitches are there (e.g. the neck facing), and how fragile the double gauze is (it was hard enough to rip out the attempted sleeve hem without tearing it), I may need to just accept that this one didn’t work out. I might try something a little simpler next. I mean, I know the Strata Top is a “simple” pattern, but it’s so simple that the instructions are quite minimal, and I’m not experienced enough to roll with that..at least on something that is supposed to fit me in the end!

In these last few weeks, the only thing I’ve consistently made time for every day (other than my teaching and parenting responsibilities) is violin practice. Inspired by Hilary Hahn, I decided to start my own “100 days of practice” challenge, and I’m now on day 28! (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I’ve been sharing a 1-minute long video excerpt from every practice session!)

I'm 28 days into my "100 days of practice" challenge!

It has been so rewarding to hold myself to making sure I do at least a little bit of practice every day. Challenging, too – I often end up practicing in the basement (right next to my sewing machine!) with the heavy practice mute after my daughter’s in bed. It’s also just a lot of fun! And I think what I’m getting from it is something that knitting has taught me well – I can’t expect to finish a project in a single sitting, but if I keep at it, sometimes just a row or two a day, eventually I will finish the project. And the same is true with practice – I can’t play the piece I’m working on right now (the Chaconne, from Bach’s d-minor Partita) all the way through, and it’s not even reasonable to expect myself to be able to do that, but if I chip away at small sections of it, with consistent practice, I really CAN learn it!

It's getting longer!

Speaking of chipping away at things piece by piece, or row by row, look how long my brioche scarf is getting! I’ve been knitting a row or two in the car on the way into work (I’m not the driver!) and occasionally I can even sneak in a row while my students are doing some in-class writing or group work! And look, it’s long enough now that I can even knit it while wearing it!

I can knit it while I wear it :)

This is going to be such a warm and a delightfully squishy scarf – and so pretty, too! Happy September, everyone!

Knitting while wearing :)

progress report!

Standard

When I finished Tric, I promised my daughter that I’d finish a sweater for her before I started another one for me, so I’m making good on my promise. Look, I finished a sleeve!

Look, I made a sleeve!

I’m hoping I can have this Elle Melle finished in time for it to be part of the “Something to Wear” portion of M’s Fall Equinox gifts. I think that should be doable, except for how classes start next week and I’m going to be a VERY busy bee!

Now I need to remember how to make another sleeve!

I also need to remind myself how to knit the second sleeve; I know that I always have problems with this pattern if I follow the written directions as I understand them, but I think I made a few notes to myself when I knit the first sleeve, so hopefully that goes ok! Then there’s the neckband and the button bands, and then it’ll be all done. I’ve got 1 month. Can I do it? We’ll see!

The other project that I’m making good progress on is my brioche + double knit scarf. I’ve really internalized the pattern at this point, so can knit it without carrying my iPad around with me, so it comes with me in my purse pretty much everywhere I go.

It's getting longer!

It’s getting long!

I’ve still got a long way to go, because that’s just how scarves are. I’ve definitely not yet reached the halfway point, because I’m still working from the first of the two skeins of each color. I’m not in any real hurry to finish this, other than that I’d like to finish it before the end of the Fruity Knitting New Technique KAL (which is running until at least the end of September, last time I checked).

Dark side!

Dark Side

Light side!

Light Side

Every time I think it’s looking long, I wrap it around my neck and realize that nope, scarves don’t work if they’re not almost as tall as you are!

Showing off dark + light side.

So that’s what’s been on my needles since I finished Tric!

brioch’ing away!

Standard

Once I finished Tric, I decided I’d take a wee break from knitting myself sweaters. Mostly, I was undecided about what my next one should be, but also, since the beginning of 2019 I’ve knit myself 2 new cardigans and 2 new pullovers, so it’s not like I’m running low on sweaters or anything! I also am hoping to reknit two sweaters for M in larger sizes – the Elle Melle that is already on the needles, and the Stripes! cardigan that is still just in yarn form.

But anyway, back to things that aren’t sweaters! Remember how I got all excited about brioche stitch after casting on for Paris’s Brioche Scarf? Well, I have a couple of little swatches to share, and then I have an update on the scarf. First up, a swatch in which I play around with the idea of making a reversible cardigan:

It's reversible!

It’s reversible!

I knit this with some 1-ply Beaverslide sportweight; I’ve got a cone in “Woodsmoke” and a cone in “Lake Josephine” that have been hanging out in my stash for AGES. I’d hoped to possibly use them to make this cardigan that I’m dreaming of, but the yarn seems to have gotten damaged – there were SO many breaks in it as I was knitting, and…well, it has a lot of dried spit holding it together! Spit-splicing let me make the swatch, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to make that work for an entire sweater given how extensive the damage is on these cones, so I’m not sure what to do with them.

Just a swatch: Grey side

Grey Side

Just a swatch: Blue side

Blue Side

I cast on for these using the Two-Color Italian Cast-On, then did the bottom hem in double knitting; because double knitting is much narrower than brioche over the same number of stitches, I knit stitches together when transitioning from the double knitting to the brioche, but I kept 6 stitches at the edges in double knitting, as “button bands”. I definitely need to play around with ways of creating a non-ugly buttonhole in double-knit fabric, because the one I made in this little swatch was definitely ugly. I’ll keep experimenting, though I’m not sure what yarn I would want to use if I made an actual sweater this way. Something light, because brioche & double-knitting can get quite heavy in dense yarns. I’m open to suggestions!

The other swatch I have to share is this one, which I made this morning:

Just a swatch

I still have some of that bright green Cascade 220 Superwash left over after knitting Tric, and I thought I’d play around with an idea I had earlier this summer: I want to make “legwarmer”-type things that I can wear between my tights and my boots in the winter, so that a pop of color sticks out at the top, and so that my tights don’t get chewed to pieces by the insides of my boots. And what better way to add pops of color than to use up scraps of yarn I’ve used to make sweaters? Anyway, I did a folded hem in 1×1 ribbing – I’m thinking that for the actual legwarmers, it might be nice to stick bit of elastic inside that folded hem, and I’ll make the hem a bit taller, too – and then switched to brioche stitch, which is so delightfully squishy! I experimented with decreases (since I’ve never done them before in brioche, the first set came out a little wonky, but the second pair look nicer) and did the “bottom hem” in a 1×1 rib finished with a tubular bind-off. Obviously the actual legwarmers will be knit in the round, and much longer, but I think this swatch will give me enough information to make a pair that will fit me well. Note to self: I used size 3 dpns for this!

(Also, the shape of that swatch totally reminds me of the diaper cover I knit for M when she was a baby – how scrumptiously squishy would a diaper cover made in brioche stitch be??)

Squishy squishy brioche!

So, so squishy!!

And now, as promised, an update on the scarf. I made a LOT of progress on it yesterday during our Advisor Training meeting; I’ve been advising for several years now, so while it’s useful to get all of the reminders and kind of get my brain back into “being a professor” mode, there’s not a lot of new content, and my hands get twitchy without something to do if I’m going that long listening to stuff I mostly already know. When I started yesterday, I hadn’t quite finished the first pattern repeat, and now I’m over halfway through the second one!

Dark side of Paris's Brioche Scarf, so far

It’s getting bigger!!

I was really excited to find that 2-color brioche knitting has become so automatic for me that I can do it during a meeting while still paying enough attention during the meeting to participate when needed, and I’m also really thrilled that I’m getting good at “reading” my knitting now, and don’t need to use the line-by-line instructions to know what to do in order to switch from brioche to double-knitting when needed.

Here’s the light side:

Light side

Light Side

The light side has more contrast, and it’s pretty, but I think I like the dark side better:

Dark Side

Dark Side

Aren’t those deep blues and purples gorgeous?? I wonder if I’ll get bored of the scarf before it’s finished – that has definitely happened to me in the past with scarves, because they’re just so…long. But the stitch pattern is just so engaging on this that I think I’ll get through it. We’ll see!